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Longtime Molokaʻi plumeria farmer hopes to raise awareness of destructive borer beetle

Molokai Plumerias
Tina Mahina Photography/Molokai Plumerias
Molokai Plumerias
Molokai Plumerias

Dick Wheeler, the owner of Molokai Plumerias, says at one time the farm was the largest supplier of fresh blooms for lei sellers in the state. But the drought has weakened his Molokaʻi orchard of three and a half decades.

His farm’s original 3,000 trees have been reduced to half that number. They are vulnerable to insects, specifically the longhorn plumeria borer beetle, as well as a number of viruses including one found previously in Florida. It's now believed to be new to both the United States and to scientists. As Wheeler explained to The Conversation, he’s concerned that plumeria in Hawaiʻi are under serious threat.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Oct. 26, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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